Protests show ‘another path’ possible for Iran: UK foreign secretary

Protests show ‘another path’ possible for Iran: UK foreign secretary
People protest against Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi during a rally in New York City on Wednesday amid the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly. (AFP)
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Updated 21 September 2022

Protests show ‘another path’ possible for Iran: UK foreign secretary

Protests show ‘another path’ possible for Iran: UK foreign secretary
  • "The Iranian leadership should notice that the people are unhappy with the direction that they have taken," said Foreign Secretary James Cleverly
  • Non-governmental groups say at least eight protesters have been killed in Iran in several days of unrest

UNITED NATIONS, United States: Britain’s top diplomat called Wednesday on Iran’s leadership to choose “another path” including embrace of a nuclear deal as protests grip the nation after the death of a young woman arrested by morality police.
“The Iranian leadership should notice that the people are unhappy with the direction that they have taken,” Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told AFP at the United Nations.
“They could abandon their nuclear weapons aspirations. They could stop the repression of voices within their own country. They could stop their destabilizing activities,” he said.
“A different path is possible. That is the path that we want Iran to take and that is the path that will see them with a stronger economy, a more happy society and a more active part in the international community.”
Non-governmental groups say at least eight protesters have been killed in Iran in several days of unrest after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.
She died after being arrested by police responsible for enforcing the Islamic republic’s strict dress code for women.
The unrest comes as Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visits New York for the UN General Assembly, where Western leaders are pressing him to accept an EU-brokered revival of a 2015 nuclear deal.
But hopes have dimmed as Raisi presses for US President Joe Biden to offer guarantees that a successor will not abandon the pact, as former president Donald Trump did.
“Sadly, we have not seen the negotiations progress as quickly as we would have hoped. They have stalled,” Cleverly said.
“It is in the Iranians’ hands now. A very sensible, pragmatic offer is on the table. The Iranians should take the opportunity to move in a better direction,” he said.
The Biden administration supports a US return to the deal, in which Iran stands to enjoy sanctions relief in return for strict limits on its nuclear program, but says that it cannot guarantee what a future president would do.


Islamic school funded by Kuwaitis opens in Venezuela

Islamic school funded by Kuwaitis opens in Venezuela
Updated 12 sec ago

Islamic school funded by Kuwaitis opens in Venezuela

Islamic school funded by Kuwaitis opens in Venezuela
  • Establishment to teach Arabic, Islamic education, Venezuelan curriculum to more than 180 students

KUWAIT: The Venezuelan Islamic School, funded by Kuwaiti businessmen and overseen by Zakat House, has opened in the country’s capital Caracas, the Kuwait News Agency reported on Wednesday.

More than 180 students in kindergarten, primary, and secondary school will be taught Arabic, Islamic education, and the Venezuelan curriculum following Kuwait’s first charitable work in the country.

The inauguration was attended by Kuwait’s Ambassador to Venezuela Nasser Al-Enezi, Head of the Venezuelan Islamic Center Baligh Saeed, and a number of dignitaries, students and school staff.

Al-Enezi praised the Zakat House of Kuwait for sponsoring projects for the Arab community, and business for its contribution.

 


Sister of Iran’s supreme leader denounces ‘tyranny’ of regime

Sister of Iran’s supreme leader denounces ‘tyranny’ of regime
Updated 07 December 2022

Sister of Iran’s supreme leader denounces ‘tyranny’ of regime

Sister of Iran’s supreme leader denounces ‘tyranny’ of regime
  • Khamenei condemned her brother in letter posted on Twitter by exiled son
  • Her daughter was arrested in November after criticizing regime in YouTube video

LONDON: Badri Hosseini Khamenei, the sister of Iran’s supreme leader, said on Wednesday that she soon hopes to see the overthrow of her brother’s “tyranny,” adding that he “has brought nothing but suffering and oppression” to his people. 

Khamenei’s family have been fierce critics of the Islamic regime since 1979, after the revolution deposed the last shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.  

Khamenei and her husband, Ali Tehrani, regularly spoke out against the government while in exile in Iraq during the 1980s, The Times reported. Upon their return to Iran in 1995, her husband, who died in October, was imprisoned for 10 years.

According to The Times, Khamenei has since refrained from publicly denouncing the regime while living in Iran.

However, she is now openly condemning the authorities’ violent crackdown on the nationwide protests.

In a damning letter posted on Twitter by her France-based son Mahmoud Moradkhani, Khamenei wrote: “I think it is appropriate now to declare that I oppose my brother’s actions and I express my sympathy with all mothers mourning the crimes of the Islamic Republic regime.

“I am sorry that due to physical ailments I cannot participate in protest movements as I should. But in heart and soul, I am with the people of Iran.

“Our family’s opposition and struggle against this criminal system began a few months after the revolution.

“The crimes of this system, the suppression of any dissenting voice, the imprisonment of the most educated and the most caring youth of this land, the most severe punishments, and the large-scale executions began from the very beginning.”

Khamenei’s daughter Farideh Moradkhani was arrested for the third time last month after calling on all foreign governments to stop supporting Tehran.

The activist described her uncle’s regime on Nov. 25 as “murderous and child-killing” in a video posted on Youtube.

Addressing this, Khamenei added: “When they arrest my daughter with violence, it is clear that they apply thousands of times more violence to other oppressed boys and girls who are subjected to inhumane cruelty.”

Khamenei also said that her brother was not listening to the “voice of the people in Iran,” but was instead taking note of “mercenaries and money-grubbers.”

She called on Revolutionary Guards to lay down their arms and join the people “before it is too late.”

 


Rifts appear between Lebanon’s two political allies

Rifts appear between Lebanon’s two political allies
Updated 07 December 2022

Rifts appear between Lebanon’s two political allies

Rifts appear between Lebanon’s two political allies
  • Free Patriotic Movement hints at parting with Hezbollah, accusing it of attacking president’s position

BEIRUT: The Free Patriotic Movement’s anger over caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati convening a Cabinet session on Monday led to a shakeup in the relationship between the party and its ally, Hezbollah.

FPM head Gebran Bassil, in a press conference on Tuesday, expressed anger over “expanded decentralization, even without laws.”

Hezbollah and the Amal Movement provided political cover for Mikati to convene a Cabinet session to approve the process of securing medicines for dialysis and cancer patients, which Mikati deems an absolute necessity.

The FPM refuses to hold any Cabinet session in light of the presidential vacuum in order to prevent Mikati from exercising the powers of the Christian president, especially since the movement believes the caretaker government has no right to play this role.

As the country experiences a devastating economic crisis, eight attempts by Lebanon’s divided parliament to elect a president have failed after the term of President Micael Aoun ended over a month ago.

Aoun’s son-in-law Bassil has indirectly presented himself as a presidential candidate, given that his parliamentary bloc is the largest Christian bloc and has the right to nominate the future president.

Bassil rejects the candidacy of former Minister Suleiman Frangieh for the post, who is supported by Hezbollah and Amal.

In a press conference, Bassil said that the Cabinet session on Monday was “unconstitutional, illegal and unconventional,” describing it as “an execution of the constitution and a fatal blow to (the) Taif Agreement.”

The FPM ministers boycotted the Cabinet session, with the exception of the Minister of Industry George Boushkian, who secured the quorum for the session. His behavior resulted in his party, the Tashnak, an ally of the FPM’s, renouncing him for not abiding by its decision to boycott the session.

The FPM website stated that “Hezbollah contributes to the normalization of the vacuum and the assault on the president’s position.”

Bassil indirectly addressed Hezbollah, saying: “If someone thinks that they are pressuring us on the presidential issue, we would like to tell them that it will not work.

“We will not attend the parliament sessions if we do not find a great national need to do so, and we will seek to abandon the blank vote quicker and go for a presidential candidate.”

MP Michel Moussa, a member of the Development and Liberation parliamentary bloc headed by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, downplayed the possibility of any change in the political map at the level of the presidential elections as a result of the tensions following the Cabinet session. “Not electing a new president contributes to deepening these conflicts,” he said.

Moussa stressed the need to conduct a serious and effective dialogue between all parties to calm tensions and elect a president.

Hezbollah avoided commenting on Bassil’s statements.

MP Bilal Abdullah, a member of the Democratic Gathering bloc, said: “One party has unsuccessfully tried to raise the sectarian discourse. Hezbollah did not respond.”

A political observer, preferring anonymity, said: “Hezbollah, by participating in the Cabinet session, tried to assure Bassil that it was not alone on the scene.”

The Sovereign Front for Lebanon, which opposes Hezbollah, stressed that the MPs must remain in the parliament hall until a new president is elected for the sake of the country and the constitution.


Jordanian, Egyptian and Iraqi foreign ministers discuss opportunities for trilateral cooperation

Jordanian, Egyptian and Iraqi foreign ministers discuss opportunities for trilateral cooperation
Updated 07 December 2022

Jordanian, Egyptian and Iraqi foreign ministers discuss opportunities for trilateral cooperation

Jordanian, Egyptian and Iraqi foreign ministers discuss opportunities for trilateral cooperation
  • They identified potential areas in which their nations could work together in the fields of politics, economics, security and industry

AMMAN: The foreign ministers of Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, Ayman Safadi, Sameh Shoukry and Fuad Hussein, met on Wednesday to discuss ways in which the strategic integration of their countries might be boosted through a trilateral cooperation mechanism, the Jordan News Agency reported.

They reportedly identified potential areas for cooperation in politics, economics, security and industry, and recommended that efforts continue to move forward toward signing agreements.

Safadi and Shoukry expressed the full support of their countries for stability and security in Iraq and congratulated the nation on the formation of its new government.

The three ministers also discussed regional issues of mutual interest, including the Palestinian cause. In addition, they agreed to maintain institutional communications to facilitate upcoming projects and plans and overcome economic challenges that requiring systematic cooperation.

 


Yemen central bank sanctions Houthi-affiliated businesses

Yemen central bank sanctions Houthi-affiliated businesses
Updated 07 December 2022

Yemen central bank sanctions Houthi-affiliated businesses

Yemen central bank sanctions Houthi-affiliated businesses
  • The majority of the 12 enterprises and dealers were also among 19 companies and individuals sanctioned by Saudi Arabia in June for supporting the Houthis

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: Yemen’s central bank has frozen the assets and accounts of 12 business groups and traders for supporting or having connections with the Iran-backed Houthis.

The move was part of a list of measures approved by the internationally recognized government of Yemen to punish the militia for attacks on oil installations.

Ahmed Ahmed Ghaleb, head of the Aden-based central bank, has formally instructed local exchange firms to close the accounts of the 12 oil and trade organizations and businesspeople and cease doing business with them.

“You must freeze all accounts, prohibit commercial and financial activities with the aforementioned persons and organizations, and add them to your blacklists,” the governor said in a letter to the firms, adding that the decision was based on Yemen’s National Defense Council’s designation of the Houthi militia as a terrorist organization.

SAM Industrial Supplies and Oil Field Services (owned by Saddam Al-Fagih and Zaid Ali Al-Sharafi), Al-Zahraa for Trade and Agencies (owned by Nabeil Abdullah Al-Wazer, Black Gold Company (owned by Ali Nasser Qaresha), and Fuel Oil for Import of Petroleum Products (owned by Ismael Al-Wazer and Qusi Al-Wazer) were among the blacklisted companies.

The majority of the 12 enterprises and dealers were also among 19 companies and individuals sanctioned by Saudi Arabia in June for supporting the Houthis.

During a meeting with a delegation of EU ambassadors in Aden, Yemen’s Oil Minister Saeed Al-Shemasi on Wednesday said that oil exports accounted for 75 percent of the country’s revenues, which were spent on paying salaries, funding projects, and paying for food and goods imports.

He called for more severe punitive measures against the Houthis to stop them from attacking oil terminals.

In October, the Yemeni government designated the Houthis as terrorists and demanded that the international community do the same after the group attacked two oil terminals in the southern provinces of Shabwa and Hadramout, blocking oil shipments and depriving the government of its primary income source.

The Houthis have vowed to keep bombing oil installations in southern Yemen unless the government agrees to divide oil profits and pay public employees in areas they control.

Separately, the Houthis freed Yemeni journalist Younis Abdul Sallam on Wednesday after holding him captive for more than a year, a Sanaa-based lawyer told Arab News.

The Houthis kidnapped him from a Sanaa street in August last year after he criticized them on social media.

Yemeni journalists and his friends celebrated his release and appealed for thousands of other people being held captive by the Houthis to be freed.

In a tweet, Nabeil Al-Subai, a senior member of the Yemen Journalist Syndicate, said: “It is an opportunity to ask the Houthis to free the remaining journalists in their custody.”